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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
SIPA USA/PA Images Ukranian president Voldymyr Zelensky today.

The Ukranian President has defended posting a film recommendation in order to end a hostage crisis

The hostage situation ended after the president posted about a documentary narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix.

UKRANIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR Zelensky today defended his decision to agree to a hostage-taker’s demand that he post a film recommendation to end a 12-hour stand-off.

Zelensky described how he negotiated personally yesterday evening with a gunman who was holding 13 hostages on a bus in the western city of Lutsk. 

“We have a result – everyone is alive. We are not fighting for (approval) ratings – we are fighting for life,” Zelensky said in a statement of his decision, as some criticised him for giving in to the gunman’s demands.

The SBU security service said all 13 hostages were released unharmed after a police stand-off with the man, who had threatened to detonate an explosive device.

The tense hostage situation ended after the president agreed to post a recommendation of a 2005 US documentary narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix called Earthlings, which condemns humans’ mistreatment of animals. 

Zelensky said he agreed with the hostage-taker, identified as 44-year-old Maksym Kryvosh, that “he would release three people, and after that I would record a video.”  

‘This is a mistake’

The armed man complied and freed three hostages: a man, a pregnant woman and a child.

In response, the president posted a video message on Facebook and Kryvosh agreed to release all his captives half an hour later, Zelensky said.

The gunman is currently being held in a temporary detention centre, police reported.

The president later deleted the short video from his account.

The SBU security service classed the incident as an “act of terror” and “hostage-taking” and Kryvosh could face up to 15 years in prison.

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